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NutMac "NutMac" RSS Feed (Mountain View, CA)

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Crayola Create 2 Destroy Dino Destruction Metropolitan Mayhem
Crayola Create 2 Destroy Dino Destruction Metropolitan Mayhem
Offered by HI-STYLE
Price: $15.29
31 used & new from $15.09

3.0 out of 5 stars Very fun but could be higher quality, March 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have two sons, 5- and 2-year old. They had hours of fun with this set, molding various shapes, crushing them with dinosaurs, throwing them with volcano catapult, and so on.

This is essentially a play doh inspired set with 3 tubs of doughs (called Morphix), 2 set of mold templates (each with 8 shapes such as buildings and vehicles), 2 volcanos (with catapult for launching boulder), 2 dinosaurs with moving actions (T-rex style monster with chomping jaws and stegosaurs-style monster with catapult tail and boulder molds), and a cardboard play mat that must be carefully detached from the box.

So if two kids had hours of fun, what could go wrong?

One word: quality.

Unlike play doh, which is smooth and tender, Morphix is brittle and powdery. Although serviceable, the overall feel and durability are lacking. They just fall apart all too easily. They seem to resist drying more than play doh, however.

Dinosaurs and volcanos are fairly decent, however. But so-called play mat is nothing more than a part of the box that must be carefully detached from the packaging.

All in all, this set holds a lot of promise and well designed. But be prepared to substitute the dough.

THERMOS FOOGO Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel 7-Ounce Food Jar, Blue/Yellow
THERMOS FOOGO Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel 7-Ounce Food Jar, Blue/Yellow
Price: $15.99
27 used & new from $15.49

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute little thermo, January 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We have two very active kids in our household (5- and 2-year olds). They are frequently on the go, and my wife frequently prepares an assortment of snack and meals in the morning.

This 7 oz jar is notable for two things: (1) it looks much smaller than 10 oz and (2) compatible with Foogo bottle (not tall enough to accommodate the straw, however). Although only 30% less in volume, 7 oz feels so much smaller and occupies much less space in lunch bag.

Just like its larger 10 oz sibling, this 7 oz jar is very high quality and easy to wash. I recommend hand washing as hot dishwasher may loosen the glue holding the bottom base.

Once sealed, food stays cool or warm for about 6 hours. We normally pack them in insulated bag, which extends freshness for 4 additional hours.

Since receiving the review unit, we ordered 3 additional jars. Each kid now has two 7oz jars (1 for meal, 1 for desserts) and a Foogo bottle for milk. Meanwhile, my wife uses Foogo's 10 oz jar and Nissan bottle.

SmartLab Toys You Build It HeadPhones
SmartLab Toys You Build It HeadPhones
Price: $20.17
10 used & new from $19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a toy, January 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
SmartLabs You Build It Headphones is something you might find at Radio Shack, but with all the wires already soldiered in.

I am a 40-year old engineer and it took me about 10 minutes to assemble the whole thing. Although marketed for 8 year olds and older, a typical 8 to 10 year olds probably wouldn't be able to assemble the whole thing on their own (or at the very least, may break certain parts in doing so). My very advanced 7-year old nephew (he can use the computer, read Harry Potter and do divisions and multiplications) struggle to put the whole thing on his own.

15-page manual (7 of which is assembly) is relatively straight forward, but has a number of confusing parts. As arrived, the left side of the headset was mostly preassembled. The manual assumes the whole thing is NOT assembled. And it is often not clear whether you are attaching things correctly.

You will need a screwdriver, 2 AAA batteries (optional, required only for lighting up the headset), and adhesive tape to complete the assembly.

As for the assembled headset itself, don't expect anything but low fidelity sound. On the plus side, the headset does not at all get loud, making it safe for young kids to listen to even at maximum volume on their iPod or iPad. On the negative side, the headset does not at all get loud and lacks of bass and high-end (I am guessing it can go as low as 80 Hz and as high as 10 KHz). This is an open headset, meaning it will not block outside sound and will leak sound.

The headset itself is completely made of plastic and will easily fall apart if you drop it. The cable management is also quite poor. But like I said in the beginning, this is a toy.

The headset lets you customize the lid artwork (black white artwork of a DJ, star, and sound pressure meter) and the lid will light up in response to the music.

Seagate Business Storage NAS 2-Bay 4TB Network Attached Storage STBN4000100
Seagate Business Storage NAS 2-Bay 4TB Network Attached Storage STBN4000100
3 used & new from $320.48

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid unit marred by weak software, December 2, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First my household setup.

I practice 4-tier backup system.

The first tier is local backup. My household consists of 3 3 Macs (all portable, 500GB hard disk, 256GB flash storage, and 512GB flash storage) wirelessly connected and backed up wirelessly to Time Capsule (2TB 802.11n).

The second tier backup is Seagate NAS. It provides the role of:
1. Redundant Time Machine backup
2. Shared iTunes library for all 3 Macs (do an Internet search for "one iTunes library between multiple Macs")
3. Aperture vault (backup of Aperture library) between 2 Macs
4. Application installers.
5. Final Cut Pro X backup.

The third tier backup is Dropbox, mirroring only the document data.

The fourth tier backup is provided by CrashPlan, backing up entire user directory of 3 Macs.

First the description of the product itself. Seagate NAS is a hefty box that is pre-installed with 2 2TB disks. The included CD software, version 1, is still the latest, so I installed it on one Mac that still has an optical disk (a note to Seagate: while many users should be able to figure out how to mount ISO image, most shipping Macs lack optical drive so provide an installer on your website). The included software is workable enough, and one can get most of it configured within few minutes playing with it, but as with Drobo and other comparable NAS, don't expect greatness.

I updated the firmware the to latest 2013 version and I swapped out 2 2TB disks with 2 4TB Western Digital green disks. The unit has loud fan and it has both long startup and shutdown cycles. The power button isn't very responsive so be prepared to use the software to do much of the interfacing.

The unit itself is decent looking as far as NAS is concerned. It isn't particularly high quality, but I frankly think NAS is something I rarely need to physically interact with it, so any measure to keep the cost down without sacrificing functionality nor stability is fine by me.

Seagate's NAS also has a USM slot that accepts Seagate's bus powered external hard disk. I have 2 such drives and they all seem to have copied fine.

Accessing NAS via 802.11n network is obviously so so at best (I averaged about 20 MB/sec, which is a bit faster than Time Capsule's internal disk), so I tried gigabit Ethernet connection. The speed jumped to about 80 MB/sec.

Seagate's iOS is mediocre at best. It still hasn't been updated for iPhone 5's taller screen and it failed to work properly in many cases. I will stick to Dropbox.

Melissa & Doug 8 Activity Cones
Melissa & Doug 8 Activity Cones
Price: $12.79
38 used & new from $9.86

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expensive but worth it., December 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is an extremely high quality set of cones. Yes, some of you may be wondering, it's just frigging cones. Yes and I do think that for some, this set is an overkill. But these cones are extremely sturdy. I can even stand on it and it won't bent at all. Younger ones can stack them and create various things. And for older kids, it works very well for various sporting needs. I only wish it had rubber padding on the bottom.

Fisher-Price Disney's Jake and The Never Land Pirates Hook's Jolly Roger Pirate Ship
Fisher-Price Disney's Jake and The Never Land Pirates Hook's Jolly Roger Pirate Ship
Price: $26.99
37 used & new from $26.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great complement to Jake's pirate ship but pricey in comparison, December 2, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very good set, but marred by the fact that superior Jake and The Never Land Pirates set is sold for only few dollars more.

As it stands, the set has few interactive parts, such as real working canon, a trap door, and steering wheel that actually spins. I have two sons (1.5-year and 4.5-year olds) and both loved the set, especially the younger one.

Although the canon ball is small and can be a choking hazard to younger ones, it doesn't hurt at all so it should be safe to all but younger one that likes to put things in their mouth.

We have this and DUPLO's Jake Pirate Ship Bucky. While they are not a perfect match, they are sized similar enough and kids love playing bad guy-good guy together. While the set is far short of DUPLO in terms of durability (but then again, very few plastic toys are), it is still quite sturdy and well put together.

Brica Deluxe Kick Mats, 2 Count
Brica Deluxe Kick Mats, 2 Count
Price: $16.00
15 used & new from $13.09

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy and affordable, March 29, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As a parent to two young boys, cleaning the car has become a weekly chore. Areas surrounding their carseats are absolute mess. Footprints, juice/milk stains, food, and garbage.

Brica's Deluxe Kit Mat brings some sanity to my tiresome weekly routine. It passes three very important tests:
1. Each mat is very easy to install and remove, requiring just fastening (or unfastening) two Velcros. It will take no more than 20 seconds to install and remove.
2. Stain resistent and machine washable.
3. Each mat is large enough to cover the back of a front seat on my wife's minivan.

Each mat is nearly identical in size to the kick mat I have installed on my other car, Britax 2 Pack Kick Mats, Black. Britax has few pockets that some people may prefer, but I personally dislike pockets as they make the mat sag, ungainly, and prone to wear and tear.

While Brica's mat is nowhere near as thick and durable as the king of kick mat, Prince Lionheart Backseat Kick Mat, Black, it seems to be completely functional at much lower price tag.

Chuggington StackTrack Wilson's Wild Ride
Chuggington StackTrack Wilson's Wild Ride
Offered by Dept229
Price: $69.43
8 used & new from $69.43

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun but not Thomas compatible, March 8, 2013
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are 5 major train sets for 3 to 5 year olds: (1) Vario (also known as Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway), (2) Thomas and Friends Take-n-Play, (3) Thomas and Friends Trackmaster, (4) LEGO Duplo Trains, and (5) Chuggington.

Vario is by far the perennial favorite, with makers ranging from Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway, BRIO, PlanToys, Melissa & Doug, IKEA, and many others. Unfortunately, Chuggington chose to go proprietary route, which is rather unfortunate as the series have some truly excellent tracks and buildings while their die-cast trains leave much to be desired.

Chugginton Die-Cast Wilson's Wild Ride is a prime example. The set consists of several dozen plastic tracks and bridge supports that snap together to build many different layouts (the manual provides instructions for building 1 layout as well as 3 finished layouts that most adults should be able to reconstruct easily).

While plastic isn't highest of quality (much closer to Trackmaster than Duplo), the tracks are very durable and snaps with a satisfying click. My 3-year old son was able to put the tracks together with minimal help. The set includes a train yard that releases the train with electric sound effects and manual release lever, construction cones (where cones pop out when the train passes by), and turntable (which rotates several times as the train passes by).

The default layout is quite entertaining, especially if your child is into roller coasters as mine is. My son was eager to build 3 alternate layouts, which took about 5 minutes to build.

Included is Wilson (die-cast) and a cargo hopper car (plastic). Compared to Thomas, the train feels rather flimsy.

My child has a ton of Vario tracks and trains (Thomas, PlanToys) and he was very disappointed to learn that he couldn't' combine them to build larger layout (they are just subtly different enough to be not compatible).

Seagate Backup Plus Portable Thunderbolt Adapter
Seagate Backup Plus Portable Thunderbolt Adapter
3 used & new from $295.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Bulky but speedy, March 7, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Seagate's Thunderbolt Adapter for Backup Plus Portable Drives is a followup to Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter (STAE121). Sporting the same exact bulky design, it appears to be merely name change and possibly firmware and controller updates.

The adapter is a tad thicker than Seagate Backup Plus 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive for Mac (STBW1000900). The adapter does not come with a cable, so I went out and purchased Apple MD862ZM/A Thunderbolt Cable - 0.5 M (NEWEST VERSION). The adapter lacks second passthrough Thunderbolt connector, possibly due to it being completely bus powered.

The adapter performed well on my 12-hour stress test (continuous read and write), exceeding 90 MB/sec for both read and write (2 GB file size), comparable to my MacBook Pro's 7200 rpm internal hard disk. Over USB 2.0, it averaged 25 MB/sec for write and 34 MB/sec for read. USB 3.0 delivers comparable performance as Thunderbolt.

It is a well known secret that Seagate's "GoFlex" connector is actually a standard 2.5" internal SATA connector. In other words, you can connect just about any 2.5" SATA devices into this adapter, including bare internal hard disk and SSD. To confirm, I removed Intel 520 Series Solid-State Drive 240 GB SATA 6 Gb/s 2.5-Inch - SSDSC2CW240A3K5 (Reseller Kit) from Mac mini. An lo-and-behold, the connector fits and everything works without any issue. This time, the performance jumped to over 270 MB/sec for write and exceeded 400 MB/sec for read, vs. 320 MB/sec for read over USB 3.0. The adapter also works with Seagate's Slim drives (e.g., Seagate Slim 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive for Mac (STCF500400)), but due to thinness of the drive, there will be some gap.

Here's the bottom line. While the adapter isn't cheap, it is among the cheapest SATA to Thunderbolt solution out there. Coupled with stellar performance (very close or identical to native SATA), my only reservation is bulky design that does not match MacBook Pro/Air's aesthetics.

Fisher-Price Storybook Reader for iPhone & iPod Touch Devices
Fisher-Price Storybook Reader for iPhone & iPod Touch Devices
Offered by The Heartland Company
Price: $8.00
63 used & new from $2.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Could've been great, February 28, 2013
= Durability:2.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love Fisher-Price's Laugh & Learn series. We have several Laugh & Learn products and they have all offered consistently fun yet engaging child development for our 2 children. So I had some high expectations for Laugh & Learning Apptivity Storybook Reader.

The product consists of iPhone 4/4S case, which offers fairly strong protection, and a series of free iPhone apps (5 as I write this). To use, install and run the app, then put the the phone inside the case, then hand the phone over to your toddler.

As stated earlier, the case offers fairly solid protection, offering nearly complete protection against drops and biting. It covers the entire iPhone 4/4S, marred only by flimsy cellophane screen protector that is prone to scratches and wrinkling (and not too hard to remove).

Another problem is that switching the app requires you to take the phone out, which gets tedious pretty quick. A workaround is inserting the phone upside down, which gives you access to the home button (and requiring you to use iOS 6's triple click "Guided Access" feature to prevent your child from switching the app).

Apptivity apps themselves are fairly well made. While not at the level of apps from leading child app developers like Duck Duck Moose, Peapod, and Toca Boca, they are free and offer enough visual and audio feedback to keep the young ones engaged. And you are certainly not restricted from launching other apps.

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